Posted in: Education

Teacher Appreciation Week 2013 And That Sticky Gift Card Question

teacher appreciation week 2013

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week 2013, and Tuesday is National Teacher Day. In theory, it’s the week that we celebrate our teachers for the gift of learning. In reality, it’s the time to agonize about what gift can possibly be appropriate for someone who is handing down grades to your child.

As Education Week noted, this year witnessed the worst-ever assault in K-12 school history with the Sandy Hook, Connecticut slaying in December that left 20 first graders and six teachers dead. Despite the horror and the still-unsettled gun control debate, teachers have to keep going and have to stand in front of classrooms of sometimes frightened children every single workday.

Teachers are professionals, and they deserve professional recognition. They don’t work for tips.

So just how do you show that appreciation? A blogger in Atlanta said, “I am seeing an interesting trend this year in Teacher Appreciation Week that both our schools… just asked for gift cards that they could give out to the teachers… They never ask the kids to wear their teacher’s favorite colors, or bring in a flower or book on a different day.”

And it isn’t just Atlanta. There has been a growing chorus around the nation that teachers are fed up with apples, home-baked cookies, and things that smell. Perfumes, body lotions, scented candles… they all bite it big time.

Rants From Mommyland summed it up as well as anyone during Teacher Appreciation Week 2012: “Teachers do not want mugs, teacher-themed knick-knacks or anything with apples on them…[I]magine getting 5 or more of the pretty much the same mug – every single year.”

A 25-year veteran California teacher, Philip Done, told one blogger that men would eat home-baked goodies but women wouldn’t. Maybe. I think it’s 2013, and you have to assume that nobody in their right mind is eating food prepared by someone they don’t know in an unlicensed kitchen. So you’re excused from baking even if the teacher in question is a man.

As for smells, the whole scented thing in an age of environmental allergy is thoughtless. Even if the teacher doesn’t have asthma or allergies, one or more of the children in the class probably does.

So what does that leave?

“Teachers do not expect the gifts, they really don’t expect them,” Done said.

Education Week suggested that the best gift was advocacy for political and budget changes that help teachers do their job.

Everybody agreed that a thank you note is always nice.

And, yes, it’s apparently OK to chip in for a gift card. If you’re the only parent giving a gift card, it may smack of bribery or sucking up.

But if you can get other parents involved, and everybody is chipping in, then it’s probably the best option.

As one teacher of 11 years put it, “We know. It’s the thought that counts. We do appreciate those thoughts, we really, really do. But after we’re done appreciating that we were remembered, we’re left with the mug, soap and apron.”

If you want the teacher to have something to use, instead of something to throw away, then the gift card is probably your best bet.

What are you doing for Teacher Appreciation Week 2013?

[photo by Julie DeGuia via Shutterstock]

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13 Responses to “Teacher Appreciation Week 2013 And That Sticky Gift Card Question”

  1. Destiny Chano

    After reading this, I am less likely to even say thank you to my child's teachers. Honestly, I had hoped that the people responsible for molding young minds were at least passingly civilized and polite. No such luck, it appears, as they have rudely demeaned the gifts they have received on the internet – where at least one person is likely to see their name and know that their gift was not appreciated- and also to hand out a list of "appropriate" gifts. Why should I bother making sure that I am gifting "appropriately" when they are not being appropriate by any standard of our culture?
    My teachers, for all three children, will be getting crafts that the children made. If they are really jonesing for a Chili's gift card, there is still time to become someone's low-pay secretary in time for Administrative Professional's Day 2014 and hope to make an impression. They teach children, as it stands, and may expect gifts from the children to be heartfelt crafts or flowers that they have helped pick or grow.
    And so help me God if my child is made to feel unappreciated over a gift they put their heart and soul into making, we will be having a Parent-Teacher Conference for the ages.

  2. Megan Gaskill

    I wouldn't lump every educator into one category after reading this. We don't all feel this way.

  3. Megan Gaskill

    I wouldn't lump every educator into one category after reading this. We don't all feel this way.

  4. Heather Johnson

    Gift cards are also a good idea because teachers often pay out of pocket for many classroom supplies. Gift cards allow teachers to buy extra, and sometimes needed, things for the classroom.

  5. Heather Johnson

    The teachers that I know do not want Chili's gift cards but rather gift cards to Walmart, Target, Office Depot, etc. at which they can buy supplies for their classrooms. Sadly, with our schools so underfunded, many teachers have to pay out of pocket for extra, and sometimes necessary, classroom supplies.

  6. Heather Johnson

    And, yes, the thought is what counts, but what is one to do with 30+ crafts each and every year? Most of those heartfelt crafts will end up in the trash. I know I wouldn't want to live in a house filled with piles of crafts. It's simply not practical.

  7. Elaine Radford

    That's a great point. My husband's dad taught physics, he spent a fortune on lab equipment because he taught at an underfunded university.

  8. Laney Helen Marie Schock

    I think teachers should be able to ask for whatever they want. Not all of their students are angels and not all of the parents are helpful. Add that to the fact that they're expected to inspire high test scores according to a fast-paced curriculum to a wild card group of kids and you realize one day is not enough appreciation lol. They need a week.

  9. Destiny Chano

    They get the whole week, and I was sent a list by the school of the type of gift they want for each day, for each teacher. Three kids, twelve teachers. Gift cards are not practical at that point, and gift expecting is rude.
    I do not appreciate being run down by the Education Mob, shaken for all of my pocket change, and then told that what came out wasn't good enough. They are getting s'mores and they can like it or trash it. I don't care.

  10. Destiny Chano

    Also, the schools here send out a list of supplies that each student must bring at the beginning of the school year, including dry erase markers, dry erase cleaner, towels, wipes, tissues, staples, paper clips, sharpies, and ziplock bags. Anything that the teacher needs for a project during the school year is charged to parents with a note home. The PTA provides these funds as well, by raising money through dress down days, silly string sales, tshirts, and five annual fundraisers that each child is required to have a parent fill out forms for- even if there are no sales.
    They have no problem charging new fees for new equipment as a "technology fee" to the students. It is not so much believable that they really, really want Teacher's Expo gift certificates. Especially since gift cards *to dining establishments* were specifically requested.
    Oh, but that is just one, one day Ah! Ah! Ah! There are five. Each with a different *assigned* gift. The same not just happens to mention the last day of school is coming up, and your child's grades will be tallied soon. Emily Post actually doesn't recommend gifts to teachers during the holidays at all, and the accepted etiquette for "appreciation days" is to do what you can reasonably afford- she suggests crafts. She does mention giving out a list of gifts you would accept, though, and that is thoroughly torched.
    I give smaller gifts throughout the year to the teachers that I feel shine, and regularly vote and lobby for raising their pay (though in Louisiana that is a losing fight) but I feel that being told that gifts are expected every day of a certain week to prove my appreciation is horrible manner sand I honestly feel compelled to send them all a very short note acknowledging their work and mentioning a donation in their name to an education charity.
    I think that is exactly what will be attached to the s'mores.
    I have a family full of educators. They would go white as sheets if I showed them this article. The problem is not that the author said that teachers would like those gifts better- it is that some teachers and schools have begun sending home wish lists from teachers. That is terribly rude.

  11. Holly Kidson

    I can safely say we are not all gift-card driven. I'd much rather be loved than caffeinated. I'd much, much rather have someone recognize that we're pretty awesome people than have someone give me anything. I think schools would be a much happier place if teachers felt valued. I spend a fortune on snacks, supplies, and club materials annually… I don't ask for any of it back because no one *makes* me go above and beyond. It's a choice I make because I want to enrich the lives of others. I just want happy kids, that make progress, and friendly administrators and parents who don't assume the worst on a regular basis. :)

    I'm sorry that your experience with your school has been so negative– they sound pretty pushy. Have you shared your concerns with the school? (sounds like you're the type who would! more power to you!) Perhaps they just didn't really think it through (I don't know about them, but I know we don't have a PR rep designated for our campus… and, yeah, sometimes things that go home are open to unfortunate interpretation!) I hope you aren't truly assuming that we are, as a professional population, overly entitled and disrespectful of those we serve.

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